I’m back to choose another score of the week, and while it seems we’ll be talking about a composer we already discussed, I’m instead following in the footsteps of City of God and looking at the needle drops. In Drive, some of the techno songs that I’m about to write about work with the night life of L.A., and the overall mood of the film, as they clash and mix together.
In the opening of the film, we see a very tense car getaway. Ryan Gosling, as the Driver, is on the phone and tells an unknown person about how he works: “I give you a five minute window. Anything happens in that five minutes, and I’m yours. No matter what. Anything happens a minute either side of that and you’re on your own.”
Once the getaway is over, the film cuts to its opening credits which clash with the tense introduction by establishing the laid back calm of nighttime driving. It is the neon nightlife made vivid through the gorgeous takes of L.A. at night and Kavinksy’s “Nightcall” that allow the viewer to loosen up after such a tense opening.
The movie may have sporadic bursts of action, but in between those bursts, are simple scenes filled with a lot of emoting and gloomy staring. This is coming from someone who loves the film, but I accept what may be some of the criticisms levied against it.
It’s the film that gave even more indie cred to Ryan Gosling and got people talking about Nicolas Winding Refn, who followed it up with the very divisive Only God Forgives, and the upcoming The Neon Demon (which is a title that seems to sum up his style since Drive).
I know a lot of people who have seen Drive, loved the soundtrack, and subsequently forgotten what happens in the film. I’m not one of those people, as some of the reasons these songs have stuck with me are due to the meaning they imbue their scenes with.
When “A Real Hero” is played at the end of the film, you get the idea that the Driver, who has done his share of wrongdoing, has finally done the right thing by protecting someone he loves, even if that means losing her in the process. [Editor’s Note: I have my own theories regarding the ending. I think the song’s use here is more ironic.]
He drives into the night as he holds his bleeding stomach, crying, knowing he can’t go back to see Irene (Carey Mulligan) ever again. He knows he’s finally become a real hero.